How to create a style guide for your small business

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How to create a style guide for your small business

If you're like most small business owners, you're constantly wearing a million hats.

You're the CEO, the accountant, the marketer, the salesperson, and sometimes, the janitor too. But one of the most important jobs of being a small business owner is creating a strong brand for your company. And that's where your style guide comes in.

In this post, I'll teach you everything you need to know about building your brand style guide - from logo design to website design to marketing materials.

So whether you're just starting out or you've been in business for years but feel like your branding could use some improvement, read on!


↘️ Pssst, pulling your hair out trying to put together a brand guide? I got your back! I created a super easy-to-follow brand guide template for you to use. Just copy the style guide template and enjoy!

brand designer picking inspiration
brand designer picking inspiration
brand designer picking inspiration
brand designer picking inspiration

What is a styleguide (or brand guide)

If you haven't heard of it yet, here's a quick brand style guide definition: 

A brand style guide is a document that outlines the style rules for a business or organization. It tells you how to dress your brand in a certain way so that no matter where it is, it's recognizable. It can include grammar rules, tone of voice, logo usage, colors, visuals, word usage, and more.


Why do you need it for your business

Having a an effective brand guide for small business in place is important for branding your business correctly and consistently. You need an organizational style guide to make sure that everyone who represents your company looks and acts consistently, and also to create a unified look for your brand. 


Whether you have a Virtual Assistant helping you create new social media designs or you hire a brand new designer to develop your sales page, with a graphic design style guide on hand everyone is on the same page about your brand's colors, logo, look and feel.

brand designer working

How to create brand guidelines for your business

When figuring out how to create a communications style guide or creating brand guidelines for your business, it's important to consider all of the different elements that make up your brand. Here are some tips on how to get started and a video example at the end to help you get it right in no time.

illustration shapes

1. Start by outlining your brand strategy

Your style guide should reflect the essence of your brand, so it's important to start by defining your mission, vision, values and overall brand personality. 


Some questions to ask yourself:

  • What is the purpose of your business?

  • What are the core values that guide your work?

  • Why do you do what you do?

  • How will you do it differently, or better?

  • Who are you looking to serve?

Once you have a clear understanding of this, you can start to define the rules that will help to communicate these values through your branding.

visual brand system with colors, fonts and graphic design

2. Compile all of your brand assets!

If you already have a professionally designed brand, gather all the file formats for your logos, hex codes of your colors, and font files.

If you have a brand identity but haven't thought it through deeply (or, your current brand isn't sparking joy anymore) consider taking a step back and going back to your brand identity strategy. 

This simple first step will help you develop a powerful brand mindfully and quicker.


No brand identity yet? I got you.

If you just started out and have no idea how to start your brand identity, your brand identity strategy is the place to go first. If you need my support, check out Get Your Brand Together and my one-on-one offering.

three colors with like icon on top

3. What are the components of a style guide and what should a style guide include?

Every brand guideline begins with your strategy:

  • your company name

  • target audience

  • brand voice

  • brand's tone

  • 5Ps: purpose, perception, promotion, personality, position

  • mission statement

  • brand story

  • and buyer personas


Then we move into your brand elements:

  • logo guidelines

  • brand colors (or color palette)

  • any visual content

  • fonts (type style guide)

  • and any visual examples that relate to your brand image.


If you have a website design and any social media designs for your brand, this could be a good spot to include for reference. It doesn't need to be a comprehensive style guide, but it needs to document your company's branding to a "T" so that you ensure consistency moving forward.

Having all this on one spot will allow you to stay on brand consistently no matter what you create next!


The step-by-step guide to creating a killer brand style guide for your small business

Before you download any brand guidelines templates, grab your cozy drink and hit play! In this video I go through how to create an effective image style guide by using the template I have created for you and how to apply your brand identity and use it without overwhelm. Hit play and then download the free brand style guide template below!

brand designer drawing showing consistency

The importance of brand consistency and how to achieve it with your brand style guides

Maintaining a consistent brand identity is important because it helps customers to quickly and easily identify your company or product. 

When all aspects of your branding are aligned, it creates a more unified and professional appearance that can help to build trust and credibility with customers. Additionally, a style guide can help to ensure that your branding is applied correctly across all platforms.


- Consistency builds trust

When customers see that your branding is always consistent, they'll start to trust your business more. This is especially important if you're selling products or services online. Applying your style guide consistently helps you build a powerful brand effortlessly.


- Consistency creates recognition

Have you ever seen a logo and been able to immediately identify the company it belongs to? That's because they've achieved recognition through consistency in their branding. If you want customers to remember your business, make sure your brand style is always consistent. It's as easy as making sure you're always using the same logo format, hex codes and fonts.


- Consistency makes creating for your brand as easy as pie

Oh, how many hours will you gain by simply using the brand elements you already have! If your brand identity was developed purposefully, chances are that you don't have to put that much effort when you need to create new designs. Open your style guide and you already have all the design elements needed to get your next design out the door quickly!

brand designer

Tips for maintaining your brand's integrity over time

As your business grows and changes, it's important to make sure that your style guide evolves with it. Here are a few tips for keeping your style guide up-to-date:


- Review it regularly.

Set aside some time every few months to review your style guide and make sure everything is still relevant. As your business changes, so will the way you need to communicate about it.


- Get feedback from others.

Ask employees, customers, and other stakeholders for their input on whether or not your style guide is still accurate. They may have noticed things that you've missed.

brand designer drawing logo

- Make updates to your brand style guide as needed.

If there are changes that need to be made to your style, make them intentionally. This will help to ensure that your branding is always accurate and on-brand.


My rule of thumb is: measure monthly, tweak seasonally. 

If you're interested in learning more about how to develop your visual identity purposefully over time, check out this blog post: How to know what your brand needs for a brand refresh.

brand designer working on computer

Examples of some of the best brands that have nailed their style guide

Some businesses have a brand style guide that is so well-done, but before you dive into bigger companies' brand manual, beware! It can be very overwhelming. 


Larger companies have extensive and comprehensive style guidelines. I think it makes sense if your company has more than thousands of employees using your style. However, for small businesses my recommendation is to keep it simple.


You're likely the heart and soul of your business, so the less complicated the better to maintain your guidelines consistent. With that said, if you're still looking to get inspired by styleguides in design, keep scrolling down for brand style guide samples. 

apple brand style guide

1. Apple Brand Style Guide

One of the most successful tech companies in the world. The apple style guide is a prime example of how to do branding correctly. Everything from their logo usage to their tone of voice is tightly controlled and consistent across all platforms. This has helped make them one of the most recognizable brands in the world.

airbnb style guide

2. Airbnb

Airbnb is another company that has nailed their style guide web design. From their quirky illustrations to their use of color, everything about their branding screams "cool and contemporary". This has helped them to become a major player in the travel industry.

vero style guide

3. How Verô makes her style guides

Because I have a small business and work with a few experts, my brand style guide isn't as extensive as corporate companies. I like to keep it simple! Add links to where to download your logo files, hex codes of your color palette and identify which font style your brand uses. That's essentially all you need.

If you're interested in using one of these style guide website templates to make your life easier, I highly recommend looking into StandardsHere's a look at my own guide.


Oh, and so many more brand style guide sample to explore in this website: Brand Site Design. From Shopify to Dropbox, enjoy!

brand designer smiling

Build your style guide with a simple template

Building your own style guide is an important step in creating a cohesive and recognizable brand. By taking the time to define how you want your business to be perceived, you can ensure that all of your branding efforts are working towards the same goal. And, by following the tips above, you can start your style guide creation and keep your style guide up-to-date as your business grows and changes.


Now you can maintain your brand’s integrity over time and create a successful visual identity that reflects who you are as a company. If you're looking for brand style guide templates and would like a framework to speed up the process – Download Verô's Brand Guide Template and have your brand guide ready in 5 minutes.


Whether you download the brand style guide template free or you're creating a style guide for documents with a designer by your side, know you can always count on me to  on your brand! Click here to explore Get Your Brand Together or to learn how to work one-on-one with me.